One aspect of Obamacare that you hear few complaining about is the way it will increase compensation for health providers who treat Medicare patients. In simple terms, providers will be given a fixed amount for taking care of a given patient population. Then every dollar they can avoid spending on patient care — while upholding quality standards — is one more dollar they can keep as profit. In a sense, doctors will no longer be paid for the patients they see; they’ll paid for patients they don’t see.
And the best way to save dollars spent on patient care is to either keep patients healthy in the first place or to make sure sick patients stay well enough to avoid ER visits and hospital readmissions.
Sense.ly is one of a new wave of companies addressing various aspects of patient wellness and engagement. Sense.ly’s uses a virtual nurse named Molly, who acts as the provider’s point of contact for patients. This allows patients to give and receive information from their provider without having to drive to the clinic or hospital.
The San Francisco-based startup has now raised a new $1.25 million in venture funding from Launchpad Digital Health, Eastlink Capital Management, and several angel investors, Sense.ly CEO Adam Odessky tells VentureBeat.
The investment will be used to “build out Sense.ly’s products, further expand the team, and broaden the company’s customer base,” Odessky says. He adds that the new funding comes as Sense.ly has signed up several new hospital customers to use its platform. It now has ten large paying clients, Odessky says.
Sense.ly’s platform combines advanced sensor capabilities and an avatar-based mobile technology to reach outpatients. A congestive heart failure or diabetes patient might check in with a caregiver by entering into a Q&A session with “Molly” on their PC, tablet, or smartphone.
Molly then passes on the information she receives to an IBM Watson supercomputer, which will link the symptoms to probable causes, then provide recommendations. If Watson determines that videoconference with a real doctor is in order, Sense.ly will set that up.
The platform can also connect with sensors applied to the extremities, so a clinician can keep a constant eye on movement and other metrics.
The platform reduced patient calls by 28 percent in a recent pilot program, Sense.ly says, while physicians increased their productivity by saving nearly a fifth of their time every day.
Sense.ly was incubated within Orange S.A., the leading France-based telecom and technology company, and launched independently in 2013. It is currently a member of the LaunchPad Digital Health accelerator program; previously, it was a graduate of the Alchemist Accelerator.
“Sense.ly’s technology has applications across a broad spectrum of medical conditions and represents an exciting new tool in our efforts to address the growing burden of chronic diseases,” University of California, San Francisco’s Dr. Van Selby said in a statement.
You can Sense.ly in action in this video: